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Hunter x Hunter is among the greatest manga and anime series of all time, featuring one of the most twisted takes on the shounen genre to date. With more than two decades of publication, the Hunter x Hunter history and overview is quite a long one.
Our Hunter x Hunter history and overview guide is here to help you out when it comes to what you need to know to begin reading or watching this series. From the main characters in the series to the villains that antagonize them to the setting itself, here’s everything you need to know about this long-running manga and anime franchise.
What is Hunter x Hunter?
Hunter x Hunter is one of the most popular anime and manga series ever released. Beginning during the golden era of shounen series like Naruto and One Piece, Hunter x Hunter quickly became a staple that has been ongoing throughout the decades up until this point.
It is also one of the most complicated manga to be a fan of since there is always the possibility that it will go on hiatus again or, in fact, never finish at all. Due to the unfortunate health of its creator, Yoshihiro Togashi, there are times when this series goes in and out of publication.
That said, this has not stopped Hunter x Hunter from being among the most popular and beloved manga series to ever release. The story follows Gon Freecss, a young boy who believes that his parents died a long time ago and he never had the chance to meet them.
Then, one day, he finds out that his father is actually alive and is a renowned Hunter in the world who is tasked with taking down monsters, hunting down various enemies, and exploring new locations. Gon sets out on his journey to join the Hunter Association and meet his father for the first time.
Along the way, he meets various characters who join him on his journey, villains that have nefarious plans up their sleeves, and discovers much about the wide world out there. Hunter x Hunter is a heartwarming and emotional shounen series that starts out pretty stereotypical, all things considered.
That said, the hook of this series is the intense action that happens that feels quite unique compared to other shows, given how the powers of the characters and drawings are used. In addition to the action are the twists and turns and darker elements that come later in the series.
There is more to Hunter x Hunter than meets the eye, and there are some shocking changes in tone and story that come later in the story. It is one of the most gripping shounen of all time and has become iconic for being essentially the first in the genre to deconstruct and defy expectations about what this sort of action-packed manga can be.
As such, the tone is quite varied depending on the arc and situation. It starts out quite cute and goofy and returns to this time and time again, but then it will wildly switch to a darker and more sinister tone at times. There are even some horror elements in a couple of places to give it a distinct feel unlike anything else.
Hunter x Hunter History: Manga
The Hunter x Hunter manga began its initial run with the very first chapter on March 16, 1998. It comes from the aforementioned Yoshihiro Togashi who was already an experienced mangaka at the time. Even at his young age, he was quite the talented star already in the industry with the series Yu Yu Hakusho.
Yu Yu Hakusho is one of the grandfathers of the shounen genre and an anime classic in its own right so that talent made Hunter x Hunter an instant success when it came out in 1998. Unlike Naruto which started around that same time, it is still an ongoing series for now.
Unfortunately, the history of this series was in a complicated state and found some bumps in the road as time went on. From 1998 until the first hiatus around a decade ago. This was due to the health of Togashi and his struggles to continue making the story at the time.
Sadly, this hiatus was not a rare occasion as it would, in fact, become the trend over the last decade. He would return and write new chapters to release in the Weekly Shonen Jump magazine where the series is published, but then only to go on hiatus again in the future.
In fact, as of right now, the series is currently in the midst of its latest hiatus that has been going on for about three years in total. This is the longest hiatus for Hunter x Hunter to date with no news at this time that it is going to be restarting anytime soon.
That said, even with the years-long wait for a new chapter of this series as it is in the middle of a seemingly long story arc and even a single battle, the series has not been canceled at this time. As such, there is still some hope in the community that it will continue in the near future.
The unfortunate situation is that it is currently unknown when that would happen and in what state that would be. Unless Togashi passes off the illustration to someone else or his health improves, it seems likely that this will be the status quo for now.
At the time of this Hunter x Hunter history and overview guide’s creation, there are 390 chapters of the manga that have been written. It is currently in the middle of a major story arc in the series, with no end in sight for when the manga series could be coming to an end.
It is also worth noting that Togashi is known for taking his time with Hunter x Hunter and not adhering to the standard rules of thumb when it comes to pacing and fast-paced chapters. Shounen series are sometimes known for their slow pace, especially in anime form, but Hunter x Hunter is a rarity even among them.
Togashi loves to put detail into his work and really go at his own pacing, taking time to give information that he believes the reader needs to know and then going lightning fast in other areas. With such a complicated history of the manga, here’s hoping that it continues someday.
After all, it is a massive critical and commercial success. Fans adore this series and what it does, and the numbers speak for themselves. The series currently sits at just under 80 million copies sold around the world of the 36 manga volumes that currently exist, putting it in the category of one of the best-selling manga of all time.
Hunter x Hunter History: Anime
Like with any major shounen manga series, it did not take long for an anime adaptation to appear for Hunter x Hunter. In fact, it was even quicker than most, with the first episode of the anime series beginning on October 16, 1999, barely over a year since the start of the manga.
However, even before that anime series began, there was a teaser anime episode that appeared only months after the start of the manga, running for 26 minutes in length and featuring Pierrot of later Naruto fame as the studio behind it.
Despite this, the actual anime series that came in 1999 was created by Nippon Animation. It would only last for about a year and a half until March 31, 2001, with the 62nd episode of the series. It was only able to cover so much content given that the manga was still early in its production as well.
That said, it would be far from the only anime production that the studio would work on. There was an OVA portion that Nippon Animation also created that covered 30 episodes in total across more than two years from January 2002-August 2004.
This was essentially a second season of the anime, allowing the studio to pick right back up from where they left off in the middle of handling the Phantom Troupe storyline. It would let them even conclude that portion of the story and handle the Greed Island arc at the same time and finish it off.
In the end, though, this was only enough to cover some of the manga and not the entire thing as it once again caught up to the original series. Because of this, it was not until several years later that fans finally got to see more of the story arcs animated.
A reboot of the anime series that more closely followed the manga came in October 2011 and was created by Madhouse, the studio behind fantastic anime movies, Death Note, Cardcaptor Sakura, and many more. It would go for 148 episodes in total, spanning almost three years in total until September 24, 2014.
Being that this was a complete reboot, this meant that it did not pick up from where the last anime left off but, instead, started over from the beginning for a more faithful adaptation. This was well-received by fans but it also meant that viewers had to wait for quite some time to see new manga story arcs in anime form.
Eventually, this did happen, with the fabled Chimera Ant arc and even more finally getting the proper anime treatment later on in the series. Of course, the ending came while the series was still ongoing, meaning that, yet again, anime fans were not able to see the end of this story.
The anime adaptation would also receive two films called Phantom Rouge and The Last Mission that would release in the same year: 2013. These were separate from the main story, focusing on some of the characters and honing in on some original tales. That said, some of the stories in the movies were taken from Togashi himself.
Hunter x Hunter is set in an alternate version of our own world where there are powers that users can activate and strange cities that resemble our own. For instance, there is York New City that is a major part of the storyline in regards to certain arcs, which is a weird version of New York City.
In addition, the setting is seemingly modern-day yet there are some bizarre aspects to some of the cultures and people that make it feel, at times, like a large portion of the world is stuck in the fantasy realm. And then there are the powers that come from Nen that many characters can use.
Nen is essentially the energy that one person has and you are able to do much with it in the Hunter x Hunter series. Not only can you enhance your own aura of Nen but you can detect others and channel it to create various powers that are used in combat.
Each person is different from one another, so the applications of how they use their Nen can differ. Some might use it to enhance their physical body to be faster or stronger while others might be able to create something to use in battle.
Because of this, there are six main classes in which all Nen users fall into, being the Enhancers who power up their bodies, the Conjurers who are able to create something to use, the Manipulators who are able to, well, manipulate other things in the real world, Specialists who fall into none of the above categories, and more.
Hunter Association Explained
Nen users can be found all across the world in Hunter x Hunter, but the title of the series comes from the “Hunters” who use their abilities for various tasks. These Hunters are part of the Hunter Association, which is a massive organization built on completing contracts.
There are many different missions that Hunters that part of the Association can go on, such as eliminating monsters somewhere, finding a missing person, locating a hidden place, and so on. The Hunter Association is found all around the world with many different Hunters that make it up.
Not necessarily all of the Hunters are as kind-hearted as the rest, with some having goals that are more selfish than the others who have the greater good in mind. Even still, the Hunter Association is a highly exclusive group with membership being a very elusive task.
The Hunter Association allows new Hunters to join if they are able to successfully pass the Hunter Examination that is held every year. The exam is a difficult one with a small slim number of people passing each time. There are multiple parts to it and plenty of people spend several years trying it over and over until they pass the exam and become a licensed Hunter.
The core cast of Hunter x Hunter follows the previously mentioned Gon and his pal of Hunter friends as they try to complete various missions, some of which are more personal than others. Gon himself is an aspiring Hunter who joins the Hunter Examination in order to receive a license and get one step closer to finding his dad.
In the process, he meets his soon-to-be best friend, Killua, who is roughly around the same age and also wants to be a Hunter. Killua is a white-haired mysterious young boy whose motives are not necessarily known from the moment that Gon meets him but are revealed as time goes on.
The older member of the group is Leorio, a medical student who wishes to gain the money that being a Hunter offers in order to fund his wishes to become a great doctor someday. He is sort of the level-headed older person in the group, but not necessarily the leader.
And last but not least, there is Kurapika. Much of the past of this character is also shrouded in mystery, but it is clear that he is the last member of his clan and wishes to get revenge against the ones who murdered them. He becomes a Hunter in order to gain the resources to find the people who did it.
While those are the core heroes in the series, there is one final main character that is introduced early on and worth mentioning, and that is the fan-favorite Hisoka. In all honesty, being a fan of the series, it is hard to say where he would best fit: in the heroes or villains section.
That said, Hisoka is a core member of the cast and a recurring person who can be a friend or foe at a moment’s notice. The wildcard of the series, Hisoka is a jester of sorts with an intriguing Nen ability and an unnerving obsession with Gon and Killua whose ultimate goals are uncertain.
Main Villains: Phantom Troupe
On the villain side of Hunter x Hunter, there are more than enough antagonists in the series to really whet the appetite of fans. Initially in the series, there are few as the story focuses on the Hunter Examination and finding out about the world besides the weird moments that Hisoka has occasionally.
In fact, the series is great about not necessarily needing specific villains at times but the ones that do show up are fantastic. Without spoiling some of the later arcs, the main villains that you should know about initially are the Phantom Troupe members.
The Phantom Troupe is a mysterious organization of villains with specific spider markings on them to note their participation in this evil group. There are several members of this group and they are each extremely powerful in their own right.
Without going too much into great detail about the Phantom Troupe, one of the first fights that you see someone engage with one of the members is insane and only the beginning of what’s to come later in the series. In fact, the Phantom Troupe are the best villains in the series in my opinion and anything surrounding them is the peak of Hunter x Hunter. There are many others, too, but none compare to these dastardly and uniquely powerful enemies for Gon and the gang.
Where to Read and Watch Hunter x Hunter
If you’ve been persuaded enough to be interested in Hunter x Hunter, it is time to begin reading and watching it. For the manga itself, there are a few places that you can start reading it, but for digital fans, we recommend checking out the Viz Media website where you can read some for free.
The vast majority of the chapters are found under the subscription, but you can at least start the story without spending anything just yet. Of course, there are digital copies of the manga volumes if you want to start reading those, instead, and have a more permanent member of your manga collection.
Speaking of collections, many users prefer to have physical media, which is understandable, so in that case, we recommend picking up the actual manga books themselves. This can be done by buying off of an online site like Amazon or checking your local bookstore to see if this popular series is in stock. Of course, you might even be able to read it at your local library like I did when I was in school.
For the anime, your best bet is to check out something like Crunchyroll if you want to watch all of the 148 episodes of the Madhouse anime with the English subtitles turned on. If you want the dubbed version, instead, that is something that is a bit trickier to find.
You can always watch it using the actual blu-rays or DVDs that came out, but that is not the most cost-effective way. In that case, it sometimes airs on the Toonami part of Adult Swim. While the dub is not something that I would always recommend for a show, I think that the Hunter x Hunter is particularly fantastic and one of the very few that I recommend to viewers.
What Chapter Anime Fans Should Start With
One of the most disappointing parts about Hunter x Hunter is finishing the anime and finding that there are no more episodes, with no more planned, either. In that case, your only real option is to check out the manga and see the latest chapters that have been released over time.
While you will not be able to finish the story since the manga is on hiatus, you will be able to see the next bit of story content that may never see an anime version. If that is you, we recommend starting with Chapter 338. 339 is technically mostly covered in the anime, too, but it is better to start with 338 and see some of the events that happen there in order.
Then from 339 forward, you can start to see some of the new story content that have been released over the years since the anime. Unfortunately, there is not too much as the manga only goes up to 390. That said, you will at least be able to see what’s up next with the Dark Continent arc.
Question: How to pronounce Hunter x Hunter?
Answer: This is a topic that is as old as the series itself and one that will continue to be a hot issue in the community. For starters, there is the argument of whether or not the “x” in the title is even pronounced in the first place.
And if it is pronounced, does it sound like the letter “x” or is it pronounced something like “Hunter cross Hunter” or the like? Well, the canon pronunciation is that the “x” is silent. In Japanese, it sounds like hanta- hanta- or just Hunter Hunter in English.
In a way, it is like the x is playing the role of a space, which is important since the Japanese language does not really use spaces most of the time in between words.
That said, I do think that pronouncing the “x” does sound a lot cooler in English, so it is something that I continue to do, personally, even if I know that it is the wrong pronunciation.
Question: Is Hunter x Hunter 2011 really over?
Answer: This question is referring to the 2011 anime adaptation of the Hunter x Hunter series by renowned studio Madhouse. Unfortunately, it did come to a conclusion in 2014 with the final episode, though there have been films since then.
For now, the 2011 series is over. There is a chance that we could get another film from Madhouse in the future, but the chances of this series continuing, at least from the same studio, are slim at this time. There are two reasons behind this, not least of which is the fact that the manga is on hiatus much of the time.
With the possibility that the manga will never finish, it is unlikely that the anime will continue unless that happens. And if the manga does finish in the end, the chances of the series continuing with Madhouse is also unlikely since the studio is strangely against second seasons of its shows outside of the very rare exceptions like Overlord.
If we do get a Hunter x Hunter anime continuation, it would likely be from another studio. That said, don’t count it out just yet as series like Bleach and Tokyo Ghoul coming back and finishing its story years later gives hope that it could happen for Hunter x Hunter someday.
Question: Did Hunter x Hunter get canceled?
Answer: No, Hunter x Hunter has not been canceled. As mentioned earlier in the guide, the series is currently on hiatus and goes into publication and then hiatus in an unfortunate cycle. It has never been formally canceled as of now.
Question: Is Hunter x Hunter based on a real story?
Answer: This series is not necessarily based on a real story. That said, the world of Hunter x Hunter is based on our actual planet Earth. Though it looks quite different at times, there are similarities like York New City that is based on, well, New York City. It seems to be a strange and sometimes twisted take on the real world.
Question: Will Hunter x Hunter ever finish?
Answer: This is a difficult question to answer. It is impossible to know for sure, especially given the state of the manga creator’s health. There is the possibility that he could get better, especially with advances in science and medicine, but that is not guaranteed.
There is also the fact that he likes to take his time with his work and give great detail, making Hunter x Hunter understandably slow at times in pace. It is unlikely that we will get a rushed ending so there is one possible solution for the series finishing.
If Togashi were to ever hand over the series to someone else to draw for him while he oversees and writes the plot, it could actually finish. Unfortunately, more than three years have passed in his latest hiatus, so it stands to reason that he is unlikely to prefer that scenario, or else it would have already happened by now. For now, the answer to this question is truly up in the air.
Hunter x Hunter History and Overview: Conclusion
While Hunter x Hunter is still going with no end in sight, especially given the numerous hiatuses, there are other similar shounen and fantasy-like series that are finished at this time. This includes Attack on Titan that is a dark and gritty series that completed its run a while back.
We recommend checking out our Attack on Titan history and overview guide to get a feel for this series and the entire manga collection that you are able to read right now. If like Hunter x Hunter, you like characters with powers, twists, turns, and a mature story that is not afraid to kill off characters at will, then this series might be for you.